Burst Water Pipe Leaves Uninsured Students Empty-handed


Dorm residents enter the hallway and see the burst water pipe as it begins to flood the hallway. Photo courtesy of Jack Gerrish.

Emma Rodriguez, Assistant Assignment & Features Editor

Some Eagle Hall residents were left with damage to personal items after a pipe broke in the residential building earlier this month.

On Jan. 14 at 10:34 p.m., a water pipe burst on the fourth floor of South Village’s Eagle Hall, triggering a sprinkler and a fire alarm. Residents were evacuated until the fire department cleared the building. 

Temporary space was given to a handful of affected students. 330 fans and 41 dehumidifiers were placed in approximately 40 units and nearby hallways to remove moisture. A reason for the pipe bursting has yet to be confirmed.

As of Jan. 23, all drying equipment has been removed from Eagle Hall, and all units are dry. 22 units are in need of drywall repair.

“There was a bunch of water coming out of the ceiling. All the ceiling tiles were falling. I’m getting residents out simultaneously and telling them what to do,” Eagle Hall Resident Assistant Chris Forestal, who was on call at the time of the incident, said. “And then, as we got everybody else out of the building, our supervisors stationed us RAs around the building, front and back, to make sure that everybody was out. We were doing damage control.”

Forestal added that FGCU is working to replace the damaged ceiling tiles and fix the broken pipe. In the few days following the incident, the livability of all affected Eagle Hall floors was questionable. Students complained about the loud equipment but were reminded that mold would make the situation even worse.

“When we went back in the morning, there were big fans in the hallways and rooms,” freshman Taylor Krier said. The pipe burst happened right in front of her door. “The hallway smelled horrible and just so hot and humid.”

Krier mentioned that she had personal items damaged due to the incident. FGCU is not liable for damage or loss of a student’s personal property for any cause whatsoever, according to the most recent housing contract. This leaves students vulnerable in case of emergency and without important belongings needed to live and complete coursework.

If parents purchased a renters insurance policy to cover their child while living on campus, the damaged items will be insured. A student may have to relocate, but the cost of item replacement would be one less hurdle to jump.

“Since the damage was caused by a pipe burst, and the contents of the dorm got wet, a renters policy covers that,” Allstate Customer Service Representative Carissa Russell said. “A renters policy covers content only, and not any damage to the structure itself. The owner of the building would be responsible for that.”